For the organizers of Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the goal is accessibility. They want lots of local and regional artists to join the lineup, and they want lots of local and regional patrons to enjoy all that’s offered.
Think of those medieval European towns, with the splendorous palace, full of art and artifacts, at the top of the hill and then, just outside the palace gates, a colorful marketplace populated by vendors of all sorts.
Spoleto Festival USA is that palace, with its top-drawer international offerings; Piccolo Spoleto is that popular marketplace, where the abundant goods are exchanged with enthusiasm.
Piccolo Spoleto is organized by the Office of Cultural Affairs and accommodates hundreds of events such as music concerts, children’s programming, harbor cruises, poetry readings, street parties, art exhibitions, dance shows, sketch comedy and lots of theater.
The 2019 poster art is by Michelle Seay, whose colorful paintings capture the dynamism of Charleston’s street scenes. The program is complete and available at www.piccolospoleto.com, and at the Charleston Visitors Center and Gaillard Center.
Patrons can expect to revel in all the usual fare: the Sunset Serenade concert, Early Music Series, Spotlight Concert Series, sand sculpting competition, Festivals of Churches and Synagogues, Piccolo Fringe at Theatre 99, Outdoor Art Exhibition, Sundown Poetry Series and more.
But some surprises are on tap. Neighborhood pop-up shows, for example. And trumpet master Charlton Singleton joining the Charleston Symphony Orchestra for the curtain-raiser.
This year, Piccolo Spoleto is extending its reach to Beaufort with a short series of early music concerts.
Many events are free. Others are cheap. You will find original programming, revivals and improvisation. You will have a chance not only to take in a performance but to buy art for your walls. You will discover the deep well of talent in town as well as enjoy remarkable performers and artists from off.
The festival presents as many as 30 or so events each day. Surely something will strike your fancy.
Charleston has gained a well-earned reputation as an arts town, and that's due in no small measure to the contributions of Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Time to take advantage of it.